success is in the heart

For the first time in my life, I have a job where people don’t say, “You’re capable of so much more.” After years of working in more junior roles at the same organization, a few months ago I accepted a management position in a field I’m passionate about. Finally, I thought. For the first time, I can be proud of what I do. I have my own office filled with plants and books – and business cards! I don’t have to explain my career choices anymore.

And yet, something feels off.

In my previous position, a colleague once said to me: “You don’t seem particularly career driven.” I don’t think this was meant offensively, but I was slightly triggered and pondered her words for some time after.

The fact is, she was right. When it came to a day job, I never wanted the responsibility that came with senior level roles. I was always content to serve in a more support-type capacity, because I didn’t want to carry home any unnecessary stress. I liked being behind the scenes. I took pride in doing a good job, and I could forget about work at the end of the day.

For the most part, I was always motivated by something else, something much deeper for me. It was a personal, inner – spiritual – search. This occupied most of my energy, and that was hard (and often pointless) to explain to those who were more outwardly focused and who questioned why I didn’t challenge myself more, work-wise.

Fundamentally, I also never cared about title and prestige. It was an interesting paradox to feel triggered by the opinions of those around me, yet know deep in my heart that it ultimately means nothing. I understood I was so much more than my career.

Now here I am poised for change yet again, and I ask myself (yet again): what do I really want? Can I feel and follow the beat of my own drum, unplugging from others’ notions of what ‘success’ looks like? Seeds have been planted, and movement in a new direction is imminent. This involves leaving the company I’ve been with for many years and starting over in a new organization.

As I previously wrote, my home environment is changing too. In these times of upheaval all around, some of us are moving back to our roots (as the wonderful Laura mentions in her comment on my post). I’ve been spending time in the very neighbourhood I grew up in and, more than ever, it feels like home.

For so many years, I wanted to live anywhere but there. I had visions of starting life over in a foreign country where I knew no one and had no shackles of the past. And now, the place I grew up is the only place I want to be. I’m seeing my childhood, and the awesome beauty that surrounded me, with new and appreciative eyes.

In a way, it feels like rewriting time and history.

My friends laugh at me for moving and changing jobs so much. And yes, I am feeling a bit exhausted and want some stability. But then, is anything really stable these days? Can we accept that flux is the new norm? Though this little birdy is looking for a place to nest, she will always be grateful for the ability to fly to new surroundings and expand her horizons.

For now, my new direction feels good and as long as I trust my heart and intuition, I can’t go wrong.

from karma to dharma

Through completing the final session of my Kundalini Yoga teacher training program last weekend, it’s become clear that my views on karma have significantly changed these last few months. Karma used to have very negative connotations (mostly surrounding punishment), and my chronic thoughts about it hung over me like a heavy cloud.

In my very first training session last October, I was hesitant to wrap my hair in a white cloth. I knew many Kundalini Yogis wore turbans, and in all my years of practice, I never saw myself doing that. But after a few days, I began to question why I was so resistant. And, near the end of our five-day session, I wrapped my hair on the top of my head.

My beautiful training group. I'm on the right.

My beautiful training group. I’m on the right.

It was very emotional for me. As a child, I was desperate to hide the fact that I was Indian. I wanted nothing more than to be white. I did everything I could to blend in, which, being brown-skinned, never really worked.

My intense feelings of powerlessness and separation – of feeling inherently inferior in my brownness – had become, in my mind, my karma. I didn’t belong anywhere on this planet, and there was nothing I could do about it.

These past few months have taken me on a journey of discovering the jewels of my ancestry, and what it means to be a woman – an Indian woman – in this day and age. It has been one intense, beautiful roller coaster ride as I unearth emotions buried deep within me, and in my ancestral line. Planet Earth is reawakening to the Divine Feminine – we know this. What truths can I now speak, that my ancestors could not?

Wrapping my hair was symbolic; it marked a return to myself.

A new path is emerging, one my childhood self couldn’t see. I have renewed hope of living from the oneness of which I am a part. I understand that I can’t be separate, because there is no separation – no matter how convincing the illusion, the maya, appears. Of course, my ego has a hard time with this. It wants to stay separate…to believe I’m inferior or superior, but never the same.

Karma used to feel like a curse, a burden – but I now see it as a gift, in that I’m totally responsible for all my thoughts, actions, and reactions in this here-and-now. I can do my best to live from my highest truth and consciousness, and correct anything I feel needs correcting. That doesn’t mean I’m always successful or that I live in ‘love light bliss’ all the time. It means I do my best.

And instead of obsessing about karma, I can choose to live my dharma.

My dharma is my purpose. It is the guiding factor in my life. It remained elusive for many years, but I’m starting to see it now. It’s what I’ve been doing all along. My dharma is not a job or a business or a project or a baby or any ‘thing’ out there. It is within. It is transforming all those things I once hated about myself into sources of strength, beauty, and love – in service to all.

Words cannot express my gratitude for my teachers, friends, and the sacred Kundalini Yoga teachings. I bow in deep reverence. Sat Nam.

blog? what blog?

Life looks very different than it did just a few short months ago. Since wrapping up my job in September, things seem to be changing – internally and externally – at warp speed.

I have to say that these last weeks of 2014 have been some of the most eye-opening and emotionally intense in recent years.  I completed a school program, cleaned up messes and restored integrity with loved ones (this seems to be ongoing!), had an old flame contact me after years of distance, landed part-time work in a completely new field, started my own business with a dear friend, and met some amazing people who will undoubtedly play a significant role in 2015.

In all this, blogging took a backseat. And I’ve missed it!

Image courtesy of Vaughan Lewis

Image courtesy of Vaughan Lewis.

I remember sensing that once I quit my job, other aspects of my life would also change. And I don’t mean this on a purely physical level. Giving up my easy, cushy 9-5 was telling the universe that I trusted there is something more to life than the routine I’d become so accustomed to. It was saying – ‘I may be crazy, but I’m willing to take that risk. What could life really be like?’

I won’t lie that for the first few weeks after quitting, I was seriously second-guessing my decision. I realized that I deeply missed the structure my job provided.  Not the actual work, but having somewhere to go. My walks to and from work, and the daily coffee joint with the other ‘regulars’. Socializing with my friends and colleagues. Feeling like I was contributing to something.

I’m now appreciating the total responsibility I have for creating my entire life. It’s the first time in many years where it’s 100% up to me to plan my day.  I miss the structure of my old job? Well then, I must implement my own structure. It’s really that simple. (It’s our stories that make things complicated!)

Starting my own business has brought up a lot of stuff – excitement, fear, creativity, and doubt, to name a few.  But at this point there is no turning back. There’s a sense of urgency in the air and I know many of us are feeling it. Time is speeding up, and one year could easily turn into five.

If not now, then when? How do I want to design my life? And what am I actually doing to create that? In these last few weeks I’ve had to be really honest with myself about my procrastination tendencies…well, that’s another post. Suffice it to say that the universe supports me, but it’s not just going to pick me up and plop me into a new life without any action on my part. I need to give it something to work with! This is the power we have as creators. This is where our mettle is tested. Where I walk my talk.

***

On a different note, when I was in Bologna in 2013 I met a lovely couple from my hometown, and since we’d travelled to the same places in Italy, they kindly sent me their beautiful photos. Just recently I received a Christmas greeting from them.  I was immediately drawn to one of the pictures attached.  It was taken in Tulum, Mexico at a Catholic church on December 12, the Dìa de la Virgen de Guadaloupe.  There is a whole history behind the association of Mexican Catholicism and Aboriginal spirituality, but I personally was transfixed by the image of the mother and daughter, and the colours and feathers. To me the photo symbolizes the passing down of feminine knowledge and the role of the divine feminine on planet earth at this time. I knew there was a message for me here. And it has something to do with 2015.

With that I will say ciao – and that it’s good to be back! Wishing everyone a love-filled, creative, and inspiring new year.

 

 

 

 

follow the excitement

After my powerful women’s circle a few weeks ago, I had a conversation with my good friend L. about our individual ways of knowing.

There’s no doubt that within the circle, I’d felt very connected to who I really am, to my essence. Moreover, it felt clear that my life’s work does not involve sitting behind a desk all day in a windowless office, coordinating processes and procedures that have little personal relevance to me.

But where in my body was I feeling this clear connection to self, this resonance with my truth? I didn’t necessarily feel it in my heart, or in my mind, or in any bodily sensation. It was just an overall feeling of…rightness. It was an absence of resistance, rigidity, and tension. It was Me, stripped of any outside roles.

I used to think that my intuition must speak to me in some really obvious way. I’d try to feel things in my heart, or in my third eye, or wherever else I thought I ‘should’ feel something – usually based on what others felt. And when I didn’t, I figured my intuition wasn’t very strong.

But as I told L after the gathering, maybe those aren’t my ways of knowing.

When I initially saw the women’s circle advertised in my Facebook feed, I just knew I had to take part, in the same way I immediately knew I wanted to enrol in a ‘Foundations of Conscious Leadership’ course offered around that same time. There was no second-guessing; my desire to participate in both was like a laser-beam. Sharp and focused, bypassing my analytical mind completely. No room for doubt. Yes.

These things excited me. There was a sense of aliveness and intrigue. And this excitement is my knowing.

Excitement moves things and shakes the universe up, irresistibly compelling it to work with us.

In a recent post I mentioned that, by total fluke, I’ve become the organizer of my high school reunion. (Let me be clear – I was not the party planner high school!) What literally started as a joke a few months ago has now become a hugely fun side project for me, sparking an interest I had no idea existed: I enjoy event planning!

I love making connections and seeing things come together. I like making s*** happen! I’ve been using my creative faculties in ways I wouldn’t have anticipated, and it’s because the universe put a cleverly disguised opportunity in my path – one I could’ve easily ignored.

***

So whenever I find myself saying ‘I don’t know what I want’ – and I’ve done that a lot, especially when I feel stuck in situations that don’t seem to be moving – I will remember these events of late. And know that I didn’t have to do anything to make them happen. In fact, I couldn’t have done anything, because they just kinda showed up unexpectedly.

I must follow my excitement and be open to things looking totally different from what I’ve been conditioned to believe is possible or likely. Opportunities can show up in the most random of ways, if we only have the curious eyes to see.

And we can trust that the universe is merely showing us what is already within.

 

Image credit: Rob Scharein, with my modifications

lessons in creative writing

Tonight I have my Creative Writing class, which started in late January and has only three sessions left.  I had a feeling the class would stretch me out of my comfort zone, and that has proven true.  It’s a good thing.

In this small workshop-style setting, we are given the opportunity to read various assignments aloud, if we so desire.  However, our instructor has repeatedly told us that contrary to what we might think, we’ll get more value in giving rather than receiving feedback. It’s the art of providing (non-judgmental) feedback to other writers that will ultimately make us better writers ourselves.

I’ve become quite comfortable with giving supportive feedback but, apart from sharing a piece in the earlier weeks, I’ve clammed up when it comes to being on the receiving end. It’s an encouraging group and I don’t feel I’ll be criticized harshly or unfairly in any way.

But it’s so interesting what such situations bring up.  The mean inner voices that come alive.  You think you’re a good writer, but maybe you suck. They won’t get it, so they’ll pick it apart. They’re not perceptive enough to know what you’re trying to say.  Everyone here is way more talented than you.

Sometimes it’s exhausting to watch my ego in action!

The class has helped me explore my intentions in writing.  With blogging in particular, there is often much emphasis placed on getting ‘likes’ and ‘followers’.  But why?  What is the end goal of that?  What are we chasing?  The ego can be sneaky here. (Or blatant.)

Writers have been called narcissistic, and I wonder about that.  Writers know that it’s not really in our control – the words must come out, or we’ll explode.  Blogging is an amazing platform for this vital self-expression.  But though my blog is largely about ‘me’, it’s not because I think my life details are that important, or that people should care about those particulars.  It’s just what I know best.  It’s where I can write with the most authority.

In the piece that I shared with the group earlier in the course, some feedback I received was that as I read aloud, people started to think about their own lives.  It was thus suggested that my work lacked a certain element that would keep listeners focused on my words.

When I reflect on the piece, this was/is a valid critique, and through the discussion that ensued, we learned the importance of balancing core elements in the craft of writing. In the assignments I’ve worked on since, I can see where I’m missing pieces that would make my writing stronger and more powerful.  Connecting with other writers in this way has been eye-opening, inspiring, and humbling.

I want to be a better writer, in the technical sense; I want to be clear and get my message across; but I don’t want it to be all about me.  I want people to think about their own lives.  My measure of personal success is that my words will spur others to reflect on their own experiences and ponder their own journeys.

***

Writing is a shared experience.  I love finding our parallels and connections, and using them to bolster each other.  That’s the point.  That’s what drives me and fires me up about the whole thing.

It’s very cool that this class is clarifying my values – and showing me when my ego is running the show.

I’m looking forward to sharing my words tonight.

am i ready for the life of my dreams?

A recent visit with my chiropractor unexpectedly morphed into an intense life-coaching session.  It was my first appointment with this particular chiro, and though I knew he leaned towards the spiritual/energetic, little did I know he was a life coach, or that I’d leave our meeting with much more than an adjusted spine.

Through the course of our 40 minutes together, I became aware that as much as I feel I’m taking the steps to create the life I truly want, another part of me appears to be in deep resistance to this, and the tension is showing up in my body (most conspicuously in the form of clenched teeth and neck pain).

dreaming lakshmi, sonja picard (sonjapicard.com)

dreaming lakshmi, sonja picard (sonjapicard.com)

I’ve been really sitting with this for the past few weeks.  Yes, I am ready for change.   But am I really excited about it?  Is there passion and energy behind my decision to open myself up to new adventures, find meaningful employment, learn new skills, and make new connections?  Or is this process marked by underlying ambivalence?

It has become clear that I’ve been holding on to a lot of restrictive and limiting beliefs that aren’t supporting me on my quest for a life with more meaning, freedom, trust, surrender, and abundance.

My ego is all-to-happy to supply a list of reasons for why my dreams can’t be fulfilled.   And by ego, I mean the energy of fear (and all that stems from it), which has infiltrated my individual – and our collective – psyche.

Some of the ego’s incessant chatter sounds like this:

  • You don’t even know what your dream/passion is.  How can you possibly hope to achieve it?
  • You can’t get paid for the things you love to do.
  • Life is hard…it is not meaningful without struggle and suffering.
  • You need lots of money for this.
  • Living your dreams is such a self-indulgent, western concept.  Why not be satisfied with all you already have?  (My ego is particularly fond of this one!)
  • It’s not in your karma.
  • There’s not enough to go around.
  • What if you fail?  What if you’re just an imposter?  What if people laugh at you or (worse?) feel sorry for you?

The list could go on and on, if I let it.  Because that’s how the ego works.  It wants us to feel bogged down and overwhelmed, so that we give up before we even try.

The ego is relentless and insidious and its job is to make sure we don’t excel and discover our magnificence and greatness, i.e., Who We Really Are.  It wants us to stay small.

It has been said that the ego is useful in that it protects us, gives us boundaries.  But I don’t know about that.  Protect us from what, exactly?   Danger, harm, being taken advantage of?   I personally would much rather rely on my intuition, self-love, and an implicit sense of trust.  Ego is all about fear, fear, fear.

I don’t want to focus on these beliefs as problems (because the ego loves problems!), so much as become more vigilant and aware of the dark corners in which they’re hiding.  I need to turn the light on, name them, call them out, so that they’re not subconsciously tripping me up and causing self-sabotage in its many forms.

Creating the life of one’s dreams can’t be accomplished merely through thinking the ‘right’ thoughts and saying positive affirmations, and long-held beliefs can’t be cleared if we’re totally unaware of their existence.  If we carry around deep beliefs that fundamentally contradict our positive words, we will manifest conflict.  And for me, this was showing up in my body.

So now the most important question becomes: if these beliefs are not my true, authentic nature, am I truly ready to let them go?  I know that it requires a whole new set of (more fun) rules to play by.  I also know that I have no other option.

I’m here for beauty, love, and expansion.  Restriction and limitation simply do not fit into that picture.